MCALLEN, TX — Valley Heart Consultants Dr. Carlos Mego and Dr. Subbarao Yarra have settled a suit brought by the United States in McAllen alleging violations of the Federal False Claims Act, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
“Today’s settlement once again demonstrates our commitment to uncover fraud and abuse that threatens the financial health of our federal healthcare programs,” said Magidson.
The suit alleged that from Jan. 1, 2004, through September 2010, Mego and Yarra violated the False Claims Act by billing Medicare for nuclear stress tests and physical examinations which were allegedly substandard. The United States also alleged that the nuclear medicine used in the tests was injected by personnel who lacked the requisite license. Many of the nuclear stress tests were allegedly unnecessary, as well as many of the coronary angiographies, echocardiograms and carotid doppler studies which the defendants billed to Medicare, according to the allegations.
Valley Heart, Mego and Yarra have denied liability and this settlement is not an admission of guilt on their part. Pursuant to the terms of the settlement, Valley Heart Consultants, Mego and Yarra have agreed to pay $3.9 million to the United States and will enter into a three-year integrity agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The investigation leading to the settlement began in 2007 after two former employees of Valley Heart Consultants filed a lawsuit under seal under the qui tam provisions of the Federal False Claims Act. The False Claims Act empowers private citizens with knowledge of fraud against the United States to present those allegations to the government by bringing a lawsuit on behalf of the United States under seal. If the investigation substantiates those allegations, the private citizen is entitled to share in any recovery.
The investigation was conducted by Department of Health and Human Services - Office of Inspector General with the assistance of the FBI. Assistant United States Attorneys Michelle Zingaro and Daniel David Hu handled the case and conducted the settlement negotiations.